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New Perspectives on the Union War$
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Gary W. Gallagher and Elizabeth R. Varon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823284542

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823284542.001.0001

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To Save the Union “in Behalf of Conservative Men”

To Save the Union “in Behalf of Conservative Men”

Horatio Seymour and the Democratic Vision for War

(p.63) To Save the Union “in Behalf of Conservative Men”
New Perspectives on the Union War

Jack Furniss

Fordham University Press

Horatio Seymour was the Civil War’s most successful Democrat, securing the governorship of New York in 1862. This chapter analyses his election as a means to reconsider the record of the Democratic Party during the Civil War. Republicans at the time constantly questioned the loyalty of their partisan opponents. Scholarly discussion ever since has tended to reflect this, with historians explaining Democratic victories as the result of people voting against Republicans rather than for Democrats, who supposedly relied on race prejudice and antiwar sentiment to secure votes. I argue that Seymour offered an alternative vision of the Union war that Democrats and many swing voters deliberately endorsed. Reevaluating Seymour’s campaign on its own terms provides a clearer explanation of what the Union war meant for Democrats and why their party continued to receive support from upwards of 45 percent of the northern electorate during the conflict.

Keywords:   Civil War, Democratic Party, elections, Horatio Seymour, New York, politics, Unionism

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